Tuesday, May 6, 2014

DON'T BUY THAT! Chicken Broth


A picture of chicken noodle soup, The Simple, Easy and Frugal Way, with a few surprise ingredients.


A roasted chicken is a delicious meal that can be stretched into several meals no matter the size of your family.  To me, the best part is what comes next - the chicken broth!

The key to a delicious and more nutritious and healing broth is the length of time you cook the bones. I aim to cook the carcass for 4-5 hours on a slow Sunday when I'm cleaning the house.  I add a little bit of vinegar because I read once that that helps to draw out the good stuff from the bones.  Plus vinegar always helps things to taste a little better in my opinion!

This is a simple, easy and frugal way to  stretch your dollars.  There is just no comparing this to the watered down, high in sodium store bought broth.

Here's what you do:

After you roast your chicken, "pick the bird."  I'll do this after we've gotten our fill at dinner. Take off all the meat you can get and store it in the refrigerator to use later.  If you want you can freeze the chicken pieces in smaller portions. The key is not to let any go bad! I always think, "wow, this chicken died so i could eat it - I better use up every last bit." It helps to assuage the guilt I feel about eating such a charming little animal!

Once you have your carcass (and any leftover skin), put it in a medium to large pot and fill with water.  Add a half to one whole onion quartered or thickly chopped (you'll be taking this out at the end).  Add a few sprigs of rosemary (a great compliment to chicken) or dill (a unique and yummy flavor in broth), more if you like stronger flavor.  Add a little (I usually use about an 1/8 to a 1/4 cup) of vinegar.  Add a generous pinch of kosher or sea salt. Garlic can also be a nice addition.

Bring to a boil on high and then lower the heat so it's at a slow rolling boil. Keep the lid almost all the way on, but leave it a little off kilter so the steam doesn't build up and it doesn't boil over. You do need a lid on it though or else it will start to evaporate.

When it's done "doing it's thang," let cool a bit and then strain. You will "pick the bird" again at this point and any of those little meat bits can be used when you make your soup. 

Broth can be stored in old jars, or you can freeze in plastic containers.  After it cools in the fridge you will notice it is thick like jello.  That's good! That is the good stuff from the bones (look here for how gelatin is made).  It will melt when you reheat it.  Since it is very concentrated, you can add water to stretch your broth.  You might also notice a layer of fat on the top.  You can either leave it in, or skim it and use it later for cooking, but don't throw it out, it's good for you!

You can now use your delicious and healing broth in soup or just drink it plain, or my favorite, with a pinch of added salt and a squeeze of lemon.

Later I will share my recipe for a delicious and filling chicken noodle soup. 

Note: If you don't have time to cook the carcass, it will be fine in the fridge for a few days.  If it will be five days or longer until you can make broth, wrap it in plastic wrap and stick it in the freezer.

Do you make broth at home? How long do you let it cook? What do you like to add?